Meatballs Königsberg (Königsberger Klopse)

Region: Former East Prussia

The dish is named after the Prussian city of Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) and is one of the delights of East Prussian cuisine. In the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the dish was officially called “Kochklopse” (boiled meatballs) to erase any reference to its namesake city, which in the aftermath of World War II had been annexed to the Soviet Union, with its German inhabitants expelled.

The meatballs are ideally made from very finely ground veal (though cheaper beef or pork is often substituted), onions, eggs, anchovy, and spices.

The meatballs are carefully simmered in a spiced broth and the broth is then mixed with cream, egg yolk pickled cucumbers and capers.

The dish is usually served with boiled potatoes or, less traditionally, with rice or noodles. I recently tried it on Tagliatelle, which gives it little bit of an Italian / German fusion twist.

Here is my variation of this popular classic: served with a pickled red beetroot salad and truffled mashed potatoes.

December 30, 2012 update: I cooked it again tonight and made some minor modifications. I think now it is just the way I like it best.

Serves: 4-6          Difficulty: Medium          Preparation time: 90 minutes


For the Meatballs:

  • 1 TBS Butter
  • 70g (2. 5 oz) very fine bread crumbs
  • 70ml (2.4 fl oz) warm milk
  • 750 g (26. 5 oz) ground veal or mixed beef/pork
  • 2 Shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 Anchovy filets finely minced
  • 2 TBS Parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 TS Paprika Powder
  • freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
  • 2 TS Dijon mustard (or medium regular Mustard)

For the cooking broth:

  • 1. 5 l (51 fl oz) veal or beef stock (substitute: instant beef bouillon -see instructions)
  • 1 thick slice of organic lemon
  • 1 clove
  • 2 Thyme twigs
  • 1 large or 2 small bay leaf (s)
  • 3 twigs of parsley
  • 5 black pepper corns
  • 3 pimento corns
  • For the sauce:
  • 2 TBS Butter
  • 3 TBS Flour
  • 1 l (34 fl oz) of cooking broth
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 2 – 3 TBS Capers
  • 100g (28 oz) Crème fraîche
  • Lemon Juice
  • Freshly ground pepper and salt

For the mashed potatoes:

  • 400 g unpeeled soft cooking potatoes
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 TBS Butter
  • 1 TBS Truffles Oil
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • freshly ground salt

For the beetroot salad:

  • 500 g (17. 5 oz) pickled red beetroot
  • 1 Apple
  • 1 small glass of small pickled gherkins
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 2 TBS White Wine vinegar
  • 1 TBS Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 TBS fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 TBS fresh dill, chopped


Begin with the meatballs

Melt 1 TBS of butter in a pan and sauté 2 finely chopped shallots until soft but not brown (about 2-3 minutes.). Combine 70g (2. 5 oz) very fine bread crumbs with 70 ml (2.4 fl oz) of milk, 750 g (26. 5 oz) ground veal or mixed beef/pork. Add 1 whole egg, 2 extremely finely minced anchovy filets, 2 TBS of finely chopped parsley, 2 TS of Dijon mustard (or medium regular Mustard), 1/2 TS Paprika Powder. Mix well until you have a smooth, well mixed meat dough. Should the dough be too moist add further bread crumbs. Season with freshly ground salt and pepper. Place in fridge and let the taste develop for the time it takes to prepare the rest.

The Red Beet Root Salad is next

Roughly chop pickled red beet root, 6-7 very small pickled gherkins, and 1 apple. Combine all other ingredients to a vinaigrette. Save 0. 5 TBS of parsley and dill for decoration purposes. Mix with apples and beetroot. Chill while preparing other items.

The cooking broth

In a large cooking pot Combine: 1. 5 l (51 fl oz) veal or beef stock with, 1 thick slice of organic lemon, 1 clove, 2 Thyme twigs, 1 large or 2 small bay leaf (s); 3 twigs of parsley, 5 black pepper corns, 3 pimento corns. Let mixture simmer at medium temperature for 30 minutes. Strain through a sieve and return strained broth to the cooking pot. If you do not have liquid veal stock, you can also use instant beef bouillon, however, use only half of the amount of instant powder opposed to what the bouillon instructions say.

Cooking the meatballs

Form the dough into meatballs about the size or slightly larger than golf balls. Bring broth to a short boil, reduce heat to 1/3 and add meatballs. Let meatballs simmer at low temperature for 20 minutes.

In the meantime

Place potatoes in a boiling pot. Add 1 TBS of salt and water until potatoes are almost (but not completely) cover. Place lid on pot and bring to a boil on maximum heat. Once steaming, reduce to 1/3 of temperature and let simmer for 20 minutes.
Strain the Capers. After 20 minutes remove meatballs from heat and sauce and keep warm. Also remove broth from pot.

In pot used to cook the meatballs, melt 2 TBS of butter at medium temperature. Once melted, add 3 TBS of flour and stir hard with a whisker until you have an even mass. Bring to a short bubble. Remove from heat and add half a cup of the broth. Stir hard with whisk until you have an even dough again. Return to heat. Add 1 cup of broth and stir hard with a whisk until again you have an even dough. Repeat this procedure on low medium heat until you have a smooth, thick sauce. Remove from heat as needed so the flour/broth mix does not turn brown while stirring. Add additional broth until you have the consistency and amount of sauce you want.
Combine 2 egg yolks and 100g (28 oz) Crème fraîche. Remove sauce from heat. While constantly stirring, add 1 TBS of sauce to the add egg/crème fraîche mixture and stir. Repeat three times. This is to bring up the temperature of the egg/crème mixture, so the egg does not clot. Add the mixture to the sauce, while stirring with a whisk. Season sauce with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Add cucumbers, capers, and meatballs to the sauce at keep warm and *do not* bring to a boil anymore at this point!

Warm plates in oven.

The mashed potatoes

Remove water from potatoes. Add 2 TBS of butter, 1 cup of milk, 2 TBS of truffles oil, and a pinch of nutmeg. Mash hard with a potato masher until you have your desired consistency of mashed potato. (I like to leave some texture). Season with freshly ground salt.

Decorate mashed potatoes, and meatballs to your preference on a warm plate. Decorate with lemon and fresh parsley Serve red beetroot salad on a separate small plate or bowl. Decorate with fresh parsley and dill.

Serve with a dry white wine or a cold beer.

The pickled red beetroot may be difficult to get. If this is the case use the following as a substitute:

500 g of carrots roughly chopped and boiled in salt water until tender. Add 1 TBS of butter and 2 TBS of Crème fraîche. Season with salt and pepper and add 3 TBS of freshly chopped parsley.


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